The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 24, 2013

Athens couple killed in Florida crash

ATHENS — An Athens couple well known in the local arts community was killed Saturday in a head-on collision in Lake Wales, Fla.

Richard and Mildred Mullins Ploss were on vacation when the wreck occurred. Monday, friends and associates in Spirit of Athens, Athens State University and the Limestone County Juvenile Probation Office expressed shock and grief over the loss of the couple.

According to a report by the Lake Wales Police Department, a 1999 Ford Explorer, driven by Kyle Hanson, 24, of Lake Wales, was westbound on Highway 60, when he crossed the centerline for an undetermined reason and, after sideswiping another eastbound vehicle, hit the Ploss’s 2012 Honda Fit head-on.

The report went on to say Richard Ploss, 69, was declared dead on the scene. Mildred Ploss, 60, was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Center where she died. Hanson was slightly injured, according to the report, and the wreck remains under investigation.

“My heart is heavy,” said Spirit of Athens Director Trisha Black in a Facebook message. “Mildred was always a ray of sunshine, hard worker and an inspiration that no matter your age you can accomplish your dreams.”

Richard displayed his paintings at the June Art Stroll around the Limestone County Courthouse. Mildred served as volunteer coordinator for Athens Art League.

Friends say the Plossers had been married since 1997 and had nine children and 12 grandchildren between them.

Richard Ploss’s daughter, Dawn Ortiz, was in Florida Monday making arrangements, she said.

“We will have the funeral in Dothan and a memorial service in Athens, later,” said Ortiz.  “We’re just now processing the information.”

Ortiz said her stepmother was from the Hartford area outside of Dothan and that her father was “from all over.”

“We moved from Erie, Pa., to Dothan, but we lived all over,” she said. “We had lived in the Dothan area for many years and that’s where I graduated.”

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